Fifty one years ago, in April 1963, our first exchange started with the Rotary Club of Parramatta (New South Wales, Australia). Since then, we have conducted 438 inbound and 502 outbound exchanges with 95 Rotary Districts in 22 countries—Australia, Canada, New Zealand, USA, Brazil, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Argentine, Turkey, Mexico, France, Norway, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Finland, Switzerland, Indonesia, Austria, Belgium, and Italy.
Through this program we hope to offer the participating high school students a golden opportunity for culture exchange, education, and self-discovery.
Q. What are the duties of a Goodwill Ambassador?
A. You will have to attend various Rotary cultural exchange events and club meetings, including our district assembly and school visits in Feburary. You will also be invited to give at least two thirty-minute Japanese speeches at Rotary club meetings from February through May.
Q. What are the most important rules I must follow during this program?
A. The Four D Rules: NO DRUGS, NO DRINKING, NO DRIVING, and NO DATING. Breaching the above rules will result in an immediate termination of your exchange.
Q. What do I bring to Japan?
A. Besides your personal effects you will need: 1) a valid visa and passport, 2) a one-year open plane ticket, 3) Emergency funds (JPY50,000), 4) Spring Camp fee (JPY60,000), 5) A winter coat, 6) traditional attire (if any).
Things that might come in handy are: 1) name cards with your picture on them; 2) pin badges; 3) country flag; and 4) pictures of your family and neighborhood.
Q. What are the first things I have to do after arrival?
Q. What kind of support will I receive during my stay?
A. Firstly, a counselor will be assigned to you, to whom you may discuss your problems freely. This counselor will be a Rotarian of your host club, who is highly experienced in this program and will be a liaison for you.
Secondly, a ROTEX advisor will be assigned to you, who is close to your age and will speak either English or your native language. A ROTEX who assists in this program is usually a Japanese university student who has completed his/her one year exchange program as a Rotary Youth Exchangee.
Q. If need should arise, how can I pay for my medication or hospital bills during my stay?
A. There will be two insurance policies that will cover your stay.
First, the mandatory insurance required by Rotary International, which you will have to sign and pay for before leaving your country. Please make sure you get the approval of your host club before entering such policies. If your insurance is found to be inadequate, especially if it does not have a personal liability coverage, your host club will ask you to enter an additional insurance policy after you arrive in Japan.
Second, the national health insurance policy eligible to all residents of Japan (including foreign nationals with a one year or longer visa), which will be paid by your host club after your arrival. This insurance policy covers 70 percent of the payment at the medical counter. The remaining 30 percent balance will be reimbursed by the first mentioned policy after the medical documents are in order.
Q. How frequent can I travel in Japan, and with whom?
A. There are four types of trips that are permitted: 1) school excursions; 2) host family trips, 3) Rotary club trips, and 4) district committee camps. All trips must be accompanied by either a Rotarian, a host family parent or, in the first case, a school teacher, and must be approved by your host club and reviewed by the district committee in advance.
Under no circumstances are trips allowed by students alone.
Q. Can my parents or other relatives visit me at any time?
A. To prevent students from becoming homesick and to help them concentrate on the tasks at hand, contact from family members are strongly discouraged. Parental visits are allowed only after April 1. Such visits have to be approved by your host club and announced to the district committee in advance. These visits must not interfere with district or club schedules, and must not be conducted during national holidays.
Q. How much Japanese do I have to know beforehand?
A. For your exchange to succeed, Japan should be the first country of your choice. As for Japanese language skills, basic everyday conversation is a prerequisite, e.g., greetings, showing gratitude, apologizing, and making inquiries. But always remember: to gain trust you need to show that you can follow the rules through your actions. Words mean nothing if you can't keep them.
Q. Do I have a choice in selecting schools and can I change my school afterwards?
A. The answer for the first question is partially yes and for the second one is no. If you wish to study Japanese at a very high level there are certain high schools that provide special courses, but this has to be clearly stated at the time of your application so there is ample time to prepare. As for school transfer, you will not be permitted to change schools on your own accord.
Q. Can I receive credit from the school I attend?
A. Rotary cannot be held responsible for school credits. Inbound students must directly inquire or discuss the matter with the schools concerned.
Q. Can I get a tattoo or a body pierce done while I am in Japan?
A. No tattooing or body piercing are permitted. In some schools such acts may result in your expulsion, in which case your visa status will be lost and you will have to deport immediately. Growing a beard or mustache is also discouraged. Furthermore, in Japan, please be reminded that people with TATTOOS are sometimes refused entry to public areas, such as spas, public baths, and swimming pools.
Q. How can I learn more about ROTARY and its Youth Exchange Program?
A. Ask your sponsor club for more details or visit the Rotary International website